“Why was I called in here?” Lydia, Jackson and Isaac followed as he made his way to his office, anger in every line of his body. “And what are they doing here? I do hope you haven’t messed up again – I did warn you what would happen if you did,” he said to the two men. Once they arrived in his office, Isaac closed and locked the door behind them, ignoring the sharp look Valack sent his way.
“We need to talk,” Lydia said, facing Valack as he took a seat behind his desk, Jackson and Isaac at her shoulders.
“What is the meaning of this?”
“Professor Valack – you know that I hold the work that the Programme does in extremely high regard,” Lydia said.
“Well obviously – I’ve worked extremely hard to make it the most innovative – “
“No – I said the programme, not you. You are a disgrace and it’s been a completely horrendous experience working under you,” Lydia stated.
“Ms Martin! You may want to consider very carefully what you say next – I am still the Director of this Programme and – “
“Ah, but you’re not. Following various meetings regarding your manner of dealing with our Handlers and the unethical experimentation that you have continued to undertake here at Eichen House, I have been charged with removing you as Director of the Programme,” Lydia said clearly.
“Did she stutter?” Jackson said, sneering at Valack. “You’re out – no longer of use – considered a disgrace to be completely transparent,” he continued. “I spoke to my father who was overwhelmed with joy to hear from me. Strange that, considering that during my ‘treatment’ you told me categorically that my family wanted nothing further to do with me following my transformation. The Whittemore name still holds a certain amount of power – which enabled us to speak to the right people who wouldn’t be swayed by whatever promises you may have made.”
“Mr Whittemore – “
“There really isn’t time for postmortems,” Lydia interrupted Valack before he could get going, stepping forward with a tablet and showing the screen to the man. “As you can see, the appropriate paperwork has been signed and witnessed. As of this moment, you have been removed as the Director of the Witness/Handler Programme. You are, of course, still bound by the Non Disclosure Agreements you signed upon joining, and you will not be allowed to take any of your research with you. In order to preserve the integrity of the programme, there are agents at your home now, removing anything that could be considered inappropriate for you to have.”
“You can’t do this!” Valack shouted, jumping to his feet. Instantly, Jackson and Isaac were in front of Lydia in a protective stance, Isaac’s hand inside his jacket to grab his gun if it were necessary. “This is completely ridiculous! I made this programme the success it is today!”
“I’ll be sure to ask them to put your name on a plaque on a bench in the courtyard,” Lydia replied sarcastically. “Now I think that’s all – Isaac and Jackson will supervise you clearing your desk here. Don’t worry about the one at your main office – that’s already been handled.” She turned to leave, considering the subject closed but turned back at the sound of a scuffle. Valack’s chair had been overturned and Jackson had ripped through his clothing turning into his kanima form and was now crouched on the desk next to Valack, tail swishing angrily, as he acted as a barrier.
“Did you really think I hadn’t prepared for this?” Valack asked, a gun in his hand as he sneered at Lydia. “Did you think I was going to let some wailing woman take over after all of my hard work?”
“And did you really think I had no idea what you and Theo were up to?” Lydia retorted, turning to face him fully. “Did you think that you had Hale on a leash? Me? Jackson? Did you truly think that a pathetic excuse for a man like you could have even the remotest semblance of control over the supernatural creatures held in just this building? No, Professor Valack – this has gone on for long enough. You have one choice to make: will your tenure end in retirement or in a tomb in the basement?”
With no preamble, Valack pulled the trigger, a stunned look crossing his face at the click of an empty chamber. He pulled the trigger again, his face ashen as he realised the depth of his mistake.
“You did think I was that stupid. How incredibly naive of you,” Lydia said. Jackson jumped down from the desk and returned to her side and she laid her hand on his head. “I guess you’ve made your choice.”
“Wait, I – “ She opened her mouth and screamed, pushing the power towards Valack, watching with dispassionate eyes as the side of his head exploded. The concentrated blast took out a quarter of his head, much like a shotgun, his brains splattering the curtains behind him, one eye dangling obscenely from his face. For a moment, he stood there, as if unaware that almost half of his face was gone and that he was dead. His remaining eye rolled back in his head and he fell gracelessly to the ground.
“Isaac, can you get a clean up crew in to deal with that please,” Lydia said, stroking Jackson’s head. “And you, my pet – thank you for protecting me. But you shouldn’t have put yourself in danger like that. Now – change back. We need to speak to the staff about a change in management.”